Carbon offsetting is essentially the compensation for your carbon footprint through the prevention of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere, or the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere, elsewhere on the planet by the same amount. Its aim, of course, is to neutralise the effect of a particular activity which causes damage to the environment owing to its release of CO2. This can be done in various ways, such as planting trees or donating to energy-based projects.
An important factor to take into account when deciding whether or not to support (or perhaps invest in) such green-schemes is that these enterprises in question are likely to have a positive social impact in addition to their obvious environmental impact. These ‘co-benefits’ of offsetting include an increase in employment (especially relevant in developing countries), social equity, and scalability; and so carbon offsets inadvertently do a world of good.
The ‘additionality’ of a project, however, is sometimes a serious concern for people deciding to cut their footprint. As might be expected, one would pay for an offset only if the carbon savings brought about by it proved to be additional to the savings which would otherwise have already happened. And although this can be tricky to prove, several providers now make it a point to ensure additionality by pledging to compensate for non-additional savings through different projects or in different ways.
Another anxiety shared by both consumers of the offset market and environmentalists, in general, is that the pay-off brought by projects of this nature may be felt much later than the investments made. But as Chris Woodford says in his article on the topic of carbon savings, “reducing the damage we’re all doing right now, in the present, is the only real way to tackle climate change.” And he’s right.
With people all over the world now becoming progressively aware of the perils of climate change – whether manifested in the form of the UK politically committing to having a zero-net carbon economy by 2050 at the latest, or carbon offsets replacing gift bags at the Oscars – it is crucial that we do not disregard any methods of environmental rejuvenation. And so with reasonably low costs and even lower efforts required to counteract your hazardous emanations, carbon offsetting is a phenomenal way to contribute to rebuilding the planet on a personal level. At Time4Trees we can help you take this easy step to ensure a healthier, cleaner planet for generations to come.